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Les 'Juicy' Adams

 

Les 'Juicy' Adams' name will always be revered among Leeds fans because the bravery, tenacity and teamwork he exemplified when wearing a blue and amber shirt was a true measure of the man.

Born on Meanwood Road, and a fanatical Loiner, it was not long before his talents for the City Boys were recognised. Drafted in to the newly formed 'B' team, set up to encourage the fostering of local talent on leacing school, the artful scrum-half made his debut as a sixteen-year-old in a home win over Featherstone in March 1927.

A spell in the 'A' team followed as he honed his trade alongside his heroes and a dramatic try-scoring display in the Championship semi-final at St Helens in 1930 completed his apprenticeship, although Huddersfield, after a replay, took the ultimate prize.

Yorkshire League and Cup winners' honours followed as he established himself the following season, adding a host of admirers after a virtuoso performance in a second round County Cup replay at Halifax which he won virtually single-handedly. A campaign of supreme consistency, which saw him score 8 of his 18 career tries and kick his solitary goal for the club, ended with Leeds finishing second in the table.

Crucially, injury ruled him out of the eventual Championship showdown, as this time Swinton were victorious at Central Park.

His form warranted a call-up for England and Yorkshire- both matches being won- but, bizarrely, Leeds had by then engaged the services of Joe 'Chimpy' Busch. A selection conflict loomed in 1931/32, with the two men of differing styles and approaches never quite hitting it off as a combination.

Despite that, the high point of his career at Leeds came in 1932, when his partnership with Evan Williams was instrumental in leading the Loiners to the Challenge Cup final. He again tormented Halifax in a replay, this time in the semi-final after missing the first tie with flu, his incessant promptings drawing the very best from his team mates. The decider was, rather unfortunately, staged at Wigan rather than Wembley, the North London venue being unavailable after the initial three-year agreement with the stadium authorities had run out.

Despite playing behind a pack beaten in the scrums, he harried and thwarted his opposite number Billo Rees- a one-time target for Leeds- in a masterful performance so typical of him at his effervescent best.

He gained a place on the Lions Tour and a Test cap against Australia, but there was heartbreak and outcry on his return when, unexpectedly, it became clear that the Headingley management had a preference for Busch in the number seven shirt.

A surprise transfer to Huddersfield brought him a second Challenge Cup winners' medal in 1933 and again two years later when he mounted the famous steps at the Empire Stadium with Castleford, after a match-winning display that saw him becaome the first player to taste such glory with three different clubs.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Adams enlisted as a rear gunner in the RAF, showing characteristic fearlessness in combat. Tragically, his plane was shot down during a mission over the Far East in 1944. Ironically, his final match for Leeds had been as a guest player on Boxing Day 1942, where his skills in partnership with Oliver Morris had destroyed Oldham- this game providing a glimpse of perhaps the greatest half-back partnership the club never had- both men paying the ultimate sacrifice.


Originally published in '100 Greats Leeds Rugby League Football Club' by Phil Caplan and Peter Smith.

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Memory added on November 27, 2012

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